How to get to the Shimabara Peninsula
Take a JR train from Nagasaki to Isahaya Station (15 minutes, about 1000 yen by limited express or 30 minutes, 480 yen by local train). At Isahaya Station change to the Shimabara Railway (Shimatetsu) to Shimabara Station (70 minutes, 1460 yen, 1-2 trains/hour) or a Shimatetsu bus to Unzen Onsen (90 minutes, 1350 yen, 1 bus/hour). The JR trains from Nagasaki to Isahaya are fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass, but the Shimatetsu trains and buses are not.
Alternatively, Nagasaki Kenei Bus operates infrequent direct buses between the Nagasaki Bus Terminal (across the street from Nagasaki Station, bus stop #3) and the Unzen Onsen Visitor Center. The one way trip takes about 100 minutes and costs 1850 yen.
From Nagasaki Airport
From Nagasaki Airport, take a Nagasaki Kenei bus from the airport to Isahaya Station (45 minutes, 640 yen, 1-2 buses/hour) and change to the Shimabara Railway (Shimatetsu) to Shimabara Station (70 minutes, 1460 yen, 1-2 trains/hour) or a Shimatetsu bus to Unzen Onsen (90 minutes, 1450 yen, 1 bus/hour).
Take a bus from central Kumamoto (Kumamoto Station or Sakuramachi Bus Terminal) to Kumamoto Port (20-30 minutes, 490-560 yen, timed with ferry departures/arrivals) and then a ferry across the Ariake Bay to Shimabara Port.
There are two ferry companies: Kumamoto Ferry operates high speed ferries (30 minutes, 1100 yen, every two hours) while Kyusho Ferry operates regular ferries (60 minutes, 890 yen, every 60-90 minutes). Taking a regular sized car onto the ferry costs about 3500 yen one way with either company.
Shimabara Port lies a little outside the city center. It is a five minute walk to Shimabarako Station from where you can take a train to Shimabara Station (10 minutes, 150 yen, 1-2 trains/hour). Alternatively, take a Shimatetsu bus to Shimabara Station (10 minutes, 170 yen, 1 bus/hour) or directly to Unzen Onsen (40 minutes, 830 yen, 1 bus/hour).
Nishitetsu operates direct highway buses between the Hakata Bus Terminal in Fukuoka (next to Hakata Station) and Shimabara Station (3 hours, 3040 yen, infrequent departures). Round trip tickets are available for 4820 yen, but must be purchased at least one day in advance.
Alternatively, take a JR limited express train from Fukuoka's Hakata Station to Isahaya Station (100 minutes, about 4000 yen, 1-2 trains/hour) and change to the Shimabara Railway (Shimatetsu) to Shimabara Station (70 minutes, 1460 yen, 1-2 trains/hour) or a Shimatetsu bus to Unzen Onsen (90 minutes, 1400 yen, 1 bus/hour). The JR trains between Hakata and Isahaya are fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass, but the Shimatetsu trains and buses are not.
Above fees and schedules are subject to change. For the current yen exchange rate, click here.
Mount Unzen and Unzen Onsen are at the center of the peninsula, while Shimabara City lies at its eastern coast. Shimabara Station in central Shimabara City serves as the transportation hub of the peninsula with bus connections to most of the neighboring sights; however, Unzen Onsen can also be accessed independently by direct buses from Nagasaki and Fukuoka.
Central Shimabara City is walkable with most of its sights within a short distance of Shimabara Station. The disaster related sites and Unzen Onsen may be reached by frequent Shimatetsu buses from Shimabara Station. The Sun Q Pass covers all of the local and highway buses into and around the Shimabara Peninsula, as well as the Kumamoto Ferry between Kumamoto and Shimabara Ports.
A rental car is a recommended option for visiting the Shimabara Peninsula and may be necessary to visit some of the less accessible sights. Rental outlets can be found around Shimabara Gaiko Station, Isahaya Station, Nagasaki Airport, Nagasaki Station and Fukuoka's Hakata Station.